Every month I write a pep talk to (hopefully) inspire, motivate, or pick you up if you’re feeling down. Think of it as both nurturing encouragement and your ‘kick up the butt’ to get going on your goals or dreams (or just help you feel good).
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
It’s become an adage amongst inspirational speakers. Already a common slogan thrown around in everyday speech.
We get what it means: we can’t expect to grow and progress inside our comfort zones, so we have to push ourselves outside of this boundary if we want new results. Which is, by definition, uncomfortable.
We understand it. But how, exactly, do we do it?
Our brains are sneaky
Our brain’s job is to keep us alive. Part of this is keeping us as safe as possible, which involves keeping us firmly in the centre of our comfort zone.
So you can say you’re going to embrace the uncomfortable stuff.
But your subconscious will have other plans.
And that survival part of your brain calls most of the shots. It’s seriously hard to override.
It’s easy to say
The problem with ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable’ is that it’s easy to say. It’s easy to think you really will embrace being uncomfortable.
But in general life – in part thanks to our brain’s previously-mentioned survival mechanism – we avoid the uncomfortable stuff without even noticing.
Saying you’ll embrace being uncomfortable is easy to say, but when we’re saying it, we don’t actually know what ‘uncomfortable’ entails. So when something uncomfortable does arrive, it seems a lot harder than we anticipated.
We’ll look for a way out.
Comfortable with being uncomfortable is flawed
I think the idea of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is sound. We do have to get out of our comfort zone to expand it.
But it’s also an oxymoron. You can’t be comfortable while you’re uncomfortable. They are literally opposite states.
And I understand, the idea is you learn to tolerate the feeling of being uncomfortable, so you can stay in that state and push through hard things.
But that’s almost step two.
If you truly want to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, you first need to seek uncomfortable things.
Learn to recognise uncomfortable
As I’ve said, your brain will redirect you away from uncomfortable things – probably, a lot of the time, without you even realising it.
So, by default, you still spend most of your time in your comfort zone.
To really embrace the uncomfortable, you have to actually go seeking it.
And even this your brain is going to resist.
Ask yourself this question in every situation
To bypass your own brain’s sabotage, try this simple trick:
Each time you have to do or make a choice about anything, ask yourself: what option is most uncomfortable?
Then do that one.
Doesn’t matter what it is. Just stick with it.
It harkens back to the even older adage of practice makes perfect. Because if you practice being uncomfortable, you’ll get better at it. You’ll learn to tolerate it.
Then you’ll start to notice when your brain is keeping you in your comfort zone. And slowly, you’ll be comfortable with choosing the uncomfortable path.
And that’s where the real results are.
Let me know how it goes. This trick’s a powerful one, if you use it right.
This pep talk is part of a series I write each month, to help motivate, inspire, and give you a boost, either in work or personally – if you like this and want more, find previous pep talks here.